By John Davis
Walker Wilbanks, the Jackson Prep lineman who left Friday night’s football game against Oxford in distress, died on Monday at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
“My heart is broken,” Jackson Prep headmaster Jason L. Walton wrote in a letter released Monday afternoon. “We have been notified by the family of the passing of Walker Wilbanks.”
Wilbanks, 17, left Friday’s game during the second half, saying he did not feel well in the hot conditions on the field. After evaluation on the sidelines, he was taken to Baptist Medical Center.
According to reports, he was cramping and vomited when he arrived at the hospital, then suffered a seizure.
Later, he was moved to the Med’s neuroscience intensive care unit and was listed in critical condition.
The news of Wilbanks’ passing was sobering for Oxford coach Johnny Hill, who said Wilbanks was making play after play against his team when he watched the replay on video.
Oxford won, 26-21.
“My heart just goes out to his parents, his family, the whole Jackson Prep team and community,” Hill said. “I can’t imagine what they are going through. This just puts a different perspective on what we do as coaches, the perspective of how important football is compared to real life.”
Hill said he was texted some encouraging information on Sunday about Wilbanks’ condition – that his blood pressure was better, color had returned to his face and he had moved his arm.
In his letter, Walton said Wilbanks played on the school’s state championship football and baseball teams and was on the track team. Walton described Wilbanks as a “loving, caring, and charismatic young man.”
Funeral arrangements were pending at First Baptist Church of Jackson. A prayer service was held at Jackson Prep’s gym on Monday night.